Encouraging participation with a new ERP system

January 6, 2015
January 6, 2015 TM Group

Encouraging participation with a new ERP system

Training employees is vital to continued ERP success.

Enterprise resource planning systems are powerful, but they don’t do the work that employees are best suited to perform. In other words, ERP is a tool, and a very useful one at that, but not a path to complete and total automation of the critical thinking components of operations. Just as with any other type of system, the effectiveness of an ERP platform is dependent in many respects on the skills of its users. For that reason, staff members have to not only understand how a system works, but also engage with it effectively to get the best results. Encouraging participation and learning, then, is a critical component of effective ERP use.

How can companies put the right kind of training efforts into place? There are many variables to consider, with one of the most important being the experience and skill of the ERP partner that a business is working with. A strong partner with extensive implementation experience will be able to provide useful advice based on not only the specific type of software being used, but also related to the size of a company and its specific market. While a great partner isn’t the only thing that a business needs to have a successful ERP education process, it’s an extremely important factor to the success of the project.

There are some considerations that organizations have to make for themselves as they’re adding an ERP system as well. Here’s a review of some of the strategies that can be employed across different industries and company sizes, to boost employee engagement with a new ERP platform and ultimately encourage more thorough participation with a system in the long run:

Encourage the early adopters
For the vast majority of businesses, there will be a variety of different attitudes taken by employees toward a new ERP system. These can range from positive to negative, and the key is harnessing the power of those who are excited about the upcoming implementation and its results. The early adopters who are asking questions without being prompted and eager to learn about a system should not only be encouraged to pursue their interest, but be used to educate the more neutral and negative employees as well.

While there are many aspects of a new system that are best taught in a more defined setting, having the most positive staff members serve as supplementary resources and providers of some troubleshooting information can certainly pay off. Not only are the educational responsibilities spread out, but employees will hear a familiar voice that is more attuned to their unique needs provide instruction.

Don’t solve all problems immediately
Working through a problem in terms of comprehension or application with an employee is often more effective than simply solving it without providing the reasoning behind the effort. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule – there are certainly times when it will make more sense to provide a correction and move on – opportunities also exist to allow staff to learn through failure. Doing so can help employees engage with and explore the new ERP system more thoroughly. In turn, this approach encourages them to find new functionalities and pathways that they might not otherwise have noticed.

Business advice website The Muse pointed out that, in professional education, creating an ownership mentality pays off for both staff and the business as a whole. One effective way to enable employees to be owners of their interactions with a new ERP platform is encouraging them, when appropriate, to learn on their own and find solutions to the various elements they interact with.